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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Saving For a Rainy (er) Day

We've all heard how important it is to set up an emergency fund. Some say we should have enough saved to get us through three months with no income, others say six. I'm going to say that in this day and age, I'd like to have closer to 9-12 months saved just for my own peace of mind. Right now, I have a whopping $16 in my emergency fund. I'd be lucky if that bought diapers for a week. I didn't mean for my fund to be so low but things came up and it didn't take long for the small amount I had saved to dwindle. So here I am back at square one.

I think it's important to set small, weekly savings goals and take baby steps toward building up savings. I know if I really try, I could save around $10 a week easily. In a year that would be $520. What I need to do is to figure out how to save beyond that. Perhaps even adding extra income and adding that toward my emergency fund. Below I'm going to share my ideas on ways to boost my emergency fund. I'll be sharing my progress with you over the months to come.

First of all, I need to look where we're really spending extra and could scale back. I've mentioned in previous blogs my slight aversion to coupon use. Well, I'm going to bite the bullet and relearn coupon usage. Way back in my early days of parenthood (when dinosaurs ruled the earth =)) it wasn't uncommon for me to walk into a store with a fist full of coupons and walk out with a cart full of stuff for up to 80% off. I got out of the habit of using coupons when I decided it was no longer worth my time and time equals money, right? Well, right now I have a heck of a lot more time than money so coupons, here I come.

Next, I'm going to get my husband to switch from brand name soda to store brand. This may or may not work but it would make an extreme difference. Right now, he's drinking over $1,000 a year worth of Mountain Dew. If I can tackle this feat, I'm guessing we could save around $50 per month.

Getting my two year old potty trained would be such a blessing financially. Right now, I have two in diapers and the cost, as a lot of you know, is outrageous. For sanitary reasons, I won't go the cloth route. I know so many people use cloth and are very successful but I'm a former cloth diaper user and I sucked at it. That was back when I only had 3 kids, I can't imagine the mess I'd make now. I lack the organization it takes to keep the diapers properly washed, etc so we won't even go there. It's an ugly, gross memory that I'd rather forget ;)

Since the weather is getting nice in my area, I'm going to have a yard sale and perhaps also set up at a local flea market once a month or so. We always have things lying around that we don't use so why not make a little extra cash from them? I may sell higher end items on eBay because I've learned from past experience, a global marketplace can be the way to go when selling pricier items. I can reach far more people than a yard sale or flea market would and make more money even after I deduct the fees.

I'm planning to get in touch with my creative side again and start selling on Etsy. I used to be an avid crafter and I did pretty well in a few shows. I'm sure I can come up with something to generate a few extra dollars. I'll be brainstorming over the next several weeks until I come up with a few good ideas. It has to be something original and something of quality. I'll keep you updated and welcome any suggestions.

I'm an expeditor for a company called ChaCha. It's a text search company that finds information for it's users and sends it back to their cell phones. When traffic is good, I can make around $20 in a few hours. It's great to do in the evenings after the kids have settled down for the night.

I started writing for eHow last month and I'm hoping in time, it will boost our savings even by a minimal amount. So far I only 17 articles and have made a little over a dollar but I'll keep adding articles and see what happens. I'm wanting to add around 30 articles a month, more if possible.

You may be saying, "Why not get a part-time job?" but I don't think that's feasible for me right now. I'd have to pay for a babysitter, use gasoline to get to and from work, purchase work clothing.. the expenses would cut so far into the extra income it wouldn't be of much benefit. I've been down that road before and it wasn't pretty. Perhaps when all the kids are in school I'll give it another go.

So there you have it, a few things I'm planning to do to make baby steps towards saving. If you have any other ideas or suggestions, please, please feel free to share!

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